Archive for the ‘English - general issues’ Category

Mary receives Livelong Contribution Award

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Mary Yap Kain Ching, the deputy minister of higher education, received the Livelong Contribution Award by the 26th Persidangan Antarabangsa Persatuan Pengajaran Bahasa Inggeris Malaysia (MELTA) here on Monday.

MELTA’s sponsor, Raja Zarith Sultan Idris Shah, the consort of the Johor Sultan, officiated the conference. She also gave away three awards, including the one to Datuk Mary Yap.

Television network ASTRO, received the Corporate Social Responsibility award while Cynthia C James, an English officer of the State Education Department received the English Teacher Award.

The staging of MELTA was aimed at complementing government efforts in raising the level of English and to encourage interaction between English educators in Malaysia and those overseas.

The three-day international conference was participated by more than 400 English teachers from Malaysia, South Korea, Indonesia, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Brunei, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

The Raja Mahkota of Perak, Dato Seri Raja Nazhatul Shima Sultan Idris Shah was among the luminaries that were present.

Read more @ http://www.newsabahtimes.com.my/nstweb/fullstory/18152

Improve English proficiency’

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

Kota Kinabalu: The proficiency level of both spoken and written English among children and the people has dropped drastically in the country.

Malaysian English Language Teaching Association (Melta) Royal Patron Raja Zarith Sofiah Binti Almarhum Sultan Idris Shah, who is the Royal consort of the Johor Sultan, said such dramatic decline can be attributed to many causes.

“English is only used to answer the teachers’ questions and it is only spoken during English classes and there is a lack of support to use the language at home or within the community.

“For example, many parents in rural areas do not speak English and, thus, their children do not have the opportunity to speak the language outside the classroom.

“Another cause is that the learners have a limited vocabulary because English reading materials are not readily available,” she said.

Raja Zarith said this in her speech when gracing a three-day 26th Melta annual international conference, here, on Monday.

The three-day conference themed “New Directions in English Language Education: Global Trends and Local Innovations” is aimed at educators, academicians, policymakers and parents to share ideas with teachers and practitioners from other parts of Malaysia and the rest of the world on how to improve and elevate standard of English.

Also present were Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Jainab Ahmad representing Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, Higher Education Deputy Minister Datuk Dr Mary Yap Kain Ching, State Education Director Datuk Maimunah Suhaibul, Melta President cum Organising Chairman Prof Dr Ganakumaran Subramaniam and senior officials.

“I have spoken to some young people who have shown a keen interest in learning English and most of them told me that when they speak English outside the classroom, they are often ridiculed.

“They do not get support from their peers. On the contrary, they have to be brave and accept the rude remarks.

Hence, it is important to be more aggressive in taking action together as a society, and not depending solely on the work carried out by ministries or by our government,” Raja Zarith said.

She said there are many who perceive those who speak English as unpatriotic and that they do not value or proud of their mother tongue, which is not true.

“As an example, I have read one of Malaysia’s classic works of literature – the ‘Sejarah Melayu’ – both in its original Malay and in its translation into English as the ‘Malay Annals’.

“I would proudly present it as a gift to a foreign guest or visitor. If the guest or visitor cannot speak or read Malay, the sensible thing to do would be to present the book in its translated form,” she said.

In fact, Raja Zarith said statistics showed that Chinese is the language with most native speakers numbering at 1.2 billion speakers while Spanish is a distant second with 400 million speakers and English is third with 360 million native speakers, with half a billion who speak it as a second language and not including those who speak English as a foreign language.

Even though English ranked third in the list of languages which are most spoken and used worldwide, she said it is still considered as a language that is used most for international business or commerce, sciences and perhaps the most powerful tool of the century and the pulse of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is the Internet.

by Hayati Dzulkifli

Read more @ http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news.cfm?NewsID=119649

‘Crucial to communicate effectively in English’

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: English is the most important language in today’s global society that it dominates the internet and remains the most preferred language of international exchange.

Her Royal Highness Permaisuri Johor, Raja Zarith Sofiah Sultan Idris noted the ability to communicate effectively in English is crucial in an increasingly borderless and globalised world as it is still the official language for world business, innovation, academia and the sciences.

“The importance of the English language in today’s world cannot be denied and is arguably the most popular and widely-used accounting 55 per cent of all online content today, in contrast to 45 per    cent of the combined languages of the world,” she said in her royal lecture while officiating the 26th international conference of the Malaysian English Language Teaching Association (MELTA).

Raja Zarith, who is also the royal patron for MELTA, highlighted the English is still the most influential and the main medium of instruction that connects people across countries and cultures despite the rapid growth of other languages.

“Although the English language ranks third in the most-used languages worldwide, it is still considered the global language for international business, the sciences and the heart of the modern era – the internet,” she said.

In her speech, Raja Zarith lamented that the deteriorating standard of English among the youth is alarming as proficiency levels of both spoken and written English has fallen drastically. Moreover, she underlined the need for an integrated effort of all parties to be more aggressive in taking action to promote the English language among the younger generation.

During the launching of the three-day conference, Raja Zarith also took the opportunity to bestow the prestigious MELTA Lifetime Contribution Award to Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Dr Mary Yap Kain Ching for her outstanding contributions in furthering English education at the state and federal levels.

Meanwhile, the MELTA Recognition Award was presented to State Education Director, Datuk Hajah Maimunah Hj Suhaibul while the recipient for the MELTA Hyacinth Gaudart English Language Teacher Award was Cynthia. C. James.

For the MELTA Corporate Social Responsibility Award for company’s contribution to English education, the honorary title goes to ASTROAwani headed by Vice President of the NextGen Content, Putri Yasmin Megat Zaharuddin. Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman believes English education needs to incorporate more creative and innovative approaches to make lessons more interesting for pupils and help them actively practice using the English language.

“Academics and educators must keep abreast of the latest trends and innovations to keep lessons entertaining and engaging for students especially in places where English is not widely spoken,” he said in his speech which was delivered by Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Jainab Ahmad Ayid.

By MOHD IZHAM B. HASHIM.

Read more  @ http://www.newsabahtimes.com.my/nstweb/fullstory/18111

English language proficiency among young low – Permaisuri of Johor

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: The proficiency of written and spoken English in the country has dropped among the young people and children.

Hence, the importance to be more aggressive in taking action together with society and not depend solely on the work carried out by ministries or by our government, said the Permaisuri of Johor, Raja Zarith Sofiah binti Almarhum Sultan Idris.

She mentioned when launching the 26th Melta (Malaysian English Language Teaching Association) International Conference yesterday,  that there were many reasons for the deterioration of the English language in the country.

She said among the reasons were because English was only used to answer  teachers’ questions and was only spoken during  English classes.

Aside from that, there was a lack of support on the use of the English language at home or within the community, she said.

“For example, many parents in the rural areas do not speak English and thus their children do not have the opportunity to speak the language outside the school classroom,” she said.

In addition, learners also had a limited vocabulary because English reading materials were not readily available, she said.

“I have spoken to some young people who have shown a keen interest in learning English. Most of them tell me that when they speak English outside of the classroom, they are often ridiculed.

“And there are also many who see those who speak English as unpatriotic and that it shows that those using the language do not value nor are proud of their own mother tongue,” which she said were not true.

“As an example, I have read one of our classic works of literature, the Sejarah Melayu, both in its original Malay, and in its translation into English as ‘The Malay Annals’.  I would proudly present it as a gift to a foreign guest or visitor. If the guest or visitor cannot speak or read in Malay, the sensible thing to do would be to present the book in its translated form,” she said.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman said  the Sabah government was focused in ensuring that education was available to both children and to school leavers who were keen to pursue tertiary level learning.

“We work closely with the federal government in addressing educational needs state-wide, even if this means providing primary level education in some of the most remote areas while large secondary schools with hostel facilities are built in districts that have rural communities who would otherwise find it difficult to go to school,”  he said.

Musa also said academicians and educators must keep abreast of the latest trends and innovations, and that this included staying ahead of the game in English language education.

“Those involved in teaching this international language must find ways and acquire the relevant skills to make lessons interesting for students,” said Musa who was represented by Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Jainab Ahmad Ayid.

He added that he believed teaching English required one to be creative and to have the ability to keep lessons interesting, especially in areas where the language was not widely spoken.

“The ability to communicate effectively in English is crucial in a borderless world, which allows us to interact with global citizens through various platforms including the internet,” he said.

He also stressed the importance for classrooms practices to remain relevant to the learning needs of the younger generation and to adapt to global trends.

Read more @ http://www.theborneopost.com/2017/08/29/english-language-proficiency-among-young-low-permaisuri-of-johor/

Education Ministry Wants Quality, World-Class English Teachers

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

NILAI, Aug 15 (Bernama) — The education ministry wants English Teachers nationwide to master the language and reach a C2 level in the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).

Minister, Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said this would ensure the standard of teaching and learning of the English Language in the country were on par with international standards.

“To date, 20,000 or 52 per cent of English teachers in primary and secondary schools have attained C1 and C2 of the CEFR.

“So, we want the English Language Teaching Centre (ELTC) to continue playing a role in improving the level of mastery and quality of writing and communication of English Language teachers in an effort to produce students who are proficient in the language and can compete globally,” he said.

Mahdzir was speaking to reporters after launching the ELTC campus and opening of the Highly Immersive Programme (HIP) Colloquium here today.

Also present were Education Deputy Minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon; Education director-general Tan Sri Dr Khair Mohamad and ELTC director Dr Mohamed Abu Bakar.

Commenting further, Mahdzir said the launch of the ELTC campus was a historic moment for the ministry as it was the sole institution responsible for heading the English Language education system in the country.

“This centre shows that the government is serious in efforts to improve the quality of English Language teachers in schools,” he added.

On a separate issue, the minister said the education director-general had issued the order to all district education offices (PPD) to open flood operations centres.

BERNAMA.

Read more @ http://education.bernama.com/index.php?sid=news_content&id=1382121

Rectify teaching flaws to salvage English

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

THE declining standard of English in Malaysia is gaining attention especially since the authorities are mulling over making English a compulsory pass in SPM.

Some feel it’s time to be firm on the matter, while others are more concerned about the number of students who will be made to leave school without a certificate. This debate has consumed a fair amount of time, energy and expertise.

Unfortunately it often hits deadlock and left to hibernate without an amicable solution.

By now one should be aware of the fact that we DO have some serious flaws in our system which needs to be rectified.

Teachers’ unpreparedness is identified as one of the main reasons for the delay in implementing some of the intended policies.

Now with the root cause being identified, what can we do?

If a systematic selection process, one without partiality, was executed and only the deserving candidates were granted the chance to be in the profession, we will not be grappling with this issue now.

I do appreciate the attempts taken by the Education Ministry to upgrade the proficiency level of the teachers by constantly offering various courses and making some courses compulsory. But how have these courses helped in solving the issue at hand? Do we have data to support the claim of progress made or objectives achieved?

If so, how is it reflected in their teaching and the results obtained? How is their progress monitored and by whom?

Are the ones monitoring and assessing the progress competent and credible enough? What if a teacher failed to reach the required level despite numerous attempts? And how about those who refuse to budge from their comfort zone and are adamant in accepting any forms of assistance?

Let’s leave the matter to the experts and start focusing on the students who deserve more attention.

Before taking the big leap (making English a compulsory pass subject), let’s rectify the damage done by changing the perception towards the language and the manner it is taught.

Arresting the issue of the declining standard of English, has to begin by creating interest among the learners. Interest has to be created before aspects of the importance of language are brought in.

Once the interest towards the language is created, learning the language will be effortless. I have witnessed students with zero exposure to the language outside class, succeeding in conversing in impeccable English!

Often, teachers stand behind these students with their power in initiating the first spark. Such is a teacher’s influence! The interest created then becomes the fundamental factor, which pushes the students forward.

As a matter of fact, interest should be an inherent factor instilled on the first day the language is introduced to a child.

Creativity of a teacher plays a significant role here. Games and activities, which involve the participation and involvement of students will surely draw attention of the students.

SR2,
Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2017/08/06/rectify-teaching-flaws-to-salvage-english/#Aw7Wpmx3du9mPLZM.99

Rectify teaching flaws to salvage English

Sunday, August 6th, 2017

THE declining standard of English in Malaysia is gaining attention especially since the authorities are mulling over making English a compulsory pass in SPM.

Some feel it’s time to be firm on the matter, while others are more concerned about the number of students who will be made to leave school without a certificate. This debate has consumed a fair amount of time, energy and expertise.

Unfortunately it often hits deadlock and left to hibernate without an amicable solution.

By now one should be aware of the fact that we DO have some serious flaws in our system which needs to be rectified

Teachers’ unpreparedness is identified as one of the main reasons for the delay in implementing some of the intended policies.

Now with the root cause being identified, what can we do?

If a systematic selection process, one without partiality, was executed and only the deserving candidates were granted the chance to be in the profession, we will not be grappling with this issue now.

I do appreciate the attempts taken by the Education Ministry to upgrade the proficiency level of the teachers by constantly offering various courses and making some courses compulsory. But how have these courses helped in solving the issue at hand? Do we have data to support the claim of progress made or objectives achieved?

If so, how is it reflected in their teaching and the results obtained? How is their progress monitored and by whom?

Are the ones monitoring and assessing the progress competent and credible enough? What if a teacher failed to reach the required level despite numerous attempts? And how about those who refuse to budge from their comfort zone and are adamant in accepting any forms of assistance?

Let’s leave the matter to the experts and start focusing on the students who deserve more attention.

Before taking the big leap (making English a compulsory pass subject), let’s rectify the damage done by changing the perception towards the language and the manner it is taught.

Arresting the issue of the declining standard of English, has to begin by creating interest among the learners. Interest has to be created before aspects of the importance of language are brought in.

Once the interest towards the language is created, learning the language will be effortless. I have witnessed students with zero exposure to the language outside class, succeeding in conversing in impeccable English!

Often, teachers stand behind these students with their power in initiating the first spark. Such is a teacher’s influence! The interest created then becomes the fundamental factor, which pushes the students forward.

As a matter of fact, interest should be an inherent factor instilled on the first day the language is introduced to a child.

Creativity of a teacher plays a significant role here. Games and activities, which involve the participation and involvement of students will surely draw attention of the students.

For those with English being a foreign language, even reciting simple rhymes and poems in English gives such pride and confidence. It’s an undeniable fact that the ability to converse in English gives great confidence to students.

Repetition is the mother of all learning, we are told. If that was to be practised, we wouldn’t have students conversing with mangled sentences in later years. If a child fails to comprehend the fundamental rules of sentence structure by the time he completes six years of primary education, if he failed to master the basic list of vocabulary to engage in a decent conversation, something is seriously flawed in our system.
Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2017/08/06/rectify-teaching-flaws-to-salvage-english/#HyB1TVcYM7HSA4ff.99

The unspoken language

Saturday, July 22nd, 2017
Hand gestures and body language form an integral part of interaction between people. EPA

WHETHER we go abroad for a much-deserved holiday or long-term relocation, we are generally aware of the impending difficulties of communication.

Unfortunately, we often concentrate on verbal interaction, forgetting about the other non-verbal variety.

One of the most frequent questions I have been asked about everyday life in Malaysia was: “How do you communicate there? Did you have to learn the language?”

The short answer has always been “No, most everybody speaks better English than I will ever master Malay”.

When I am in a talkative mood, I will add a little anecdote about my forays into language learning. But, that is stuff for a different story.

However, verbal communication is only half the ticket, as I realised soon after setting foot in this part of the world.

Hand gestures and body language form an integral part of interaction between the people.

While we are very much aware of our shortcomings regarding foreign language, we forget that we unintentionally offend our counterparts on a different level.

It is interesting to note that, while locals are tolerant regarding our lack of verbal skills, they are often caught on the wrong foot in regard to our use of gestures or our omission thereof.

Body language is commonly regarded as a supplement to verbal communication, when in fact, it is the essence of a culture, without which the spoken word could not have evolved.

When we travel to foreign shores, we may well leave our languages behind, but we always carry our cultural baggage with us and, therefore, often send mixed messages to those around us.

My mother, who managed to live and function in foreign language territory for 50 years without even trying to acquire the local prose, used to say “jeux de mains, jeux de vilain”, which loosely translates to “hand games, naughty games”.

Truer words have seldom been spoken, as it happens. Some gestures convey universal messages; an outstretched hand means welcome, a held up one says stop, and a waving palm sends you on your way with a fond goodbye.

And yet, other non-verbal communication can be fertile ground for misunderstandings; even going as far as to start wars.

In the West, we point at things, if not at people, with our forefinger, it’s called pointer for a reason. A definite no-go in Malaysia, where we learn to point out directions with our — preferably not outstretched — thumb; a small cultural difference with potentially far-reaching consequences.

While hitting your right fist into your cupped left hand is a sign of encouragement and signifies a nonchalant “let’s go” or “let’s do this” in large parts of the Western hemisphere, it is considered rude, if not shocking, here.

Similarly, many foreigners will hide their hands in their pockets or cross their arms in front of their chest as as a sign of feeling insecure, but it is perceived as assertively aggressive in many Asian societies.

The traditional Malay greeting of salam is one of my personal favourite salutations in the world, as you bring your hand to your chest indicating that you hold your counterpart in your heart.

The fact that the preluding handshake is not a firm grip is interpreted as a weak “cold fish” gesture in many Western countries, however.

Perhaps the most commonly misunderstood signal is the laugh, which in Asia can mean anything from happiness to surprise, anger, shock or embarrassment. To Westerners, a laugh means merriment, nothing more, nothing less.

Did you know that the very rude thumb protruding between the first two fingers of a clenched fist is a playful gesture used by French adults towards children, pretending to have stolen their nose?

Flick your throat with your forefinger to swat at a mosquito and your Russian acquaintance will immediately proceed into the next bar to offer you a drink.

And, while the newly-erupted culture of selfies often depicts (mainly young Japanese) girls making a victory sign en lieu of a socially not-acceptable smile, it is misunderstood as a lewd gesture symbolising female genitals in Southern Europe.

The list of potential pitfalls goes on and on, and I haven’t even touched on the subjects of eye contact, glances, breathing patterns and personal space.

When we travel to foreign countries, we all bother to enquire about the local language. Some of us will read up on food and local dressing etiquette, and a few will delve into the subject of culture and history.

By FANNY BUCHELI-ROTTER.

Read more  @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2017/07/259618/unspoken-language

Fikirlah: ‘Old-School’ Teachers Can Help Improve English

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

MELAKA (Bernama) — In 2016, the passing rate for the English paper in Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) was at 79.4 percent. This achievement motivated the Education Ministry to push the bar even higher, setting the passing rate at 81 percent by 2020.

However, the reality is that achieving the target would require a lot of effort by all parties concerned. This would include introducing new language teaching and learning methods and a revamped English syllabus for schools.

I find that the most important measure to take to realise such ambition is to have more English teachers like those of yesteryears. This is in addition to parents providing wholehearted support for children in learning the language.

When I think of the quality of English teachers back then, my mind goes to the late Lee Siew San. She taught Malaysia’s distinguished cartoonist Datuk Mohd Nor Khalid, better known as Lat, and inspired him to create the iconic character of Mrs Hew in his Kampung Boy series.

Lat recognised that beneath Lee’s stern exterior, she had a heart of gold. She relentlessly taught Lat and his friends in the village how to read, write and speak in English, eventually helping them go far in life.

Just imagine if all of us had a ‘Mrs Hew’ of our own during our schooling years; that one teacher who worked relentlessly to get English into our hearts, to help us master at the very least the basic command of the language.

These teachers usually employ old-school methods in teaching English, stern and often with a cane in their hands. However, their austere manner often belied a heart so gracious that no matter what you throw at them, they will always be there for you to not only help you master English but make you a better person.

I came to know of my own ‘Mrs Hew’ back in 1991 when I started Form One. My English teacher then was Mr Choy Kim Chai who also happened to be the Kemahiran Hidup teacher.

Since young I had been exposed to English by my father who spoke the language fluently. He used to buy us English books and comics, one of which was Lat’s Kampung Boy.

However, Mersing, the place where I grew up, was just a small fishing town. The Malays there hardly spoke English.

With only a few friends who could converse in English, I did not have much opportunity to improve my command of the language. Mr Choy himself pointed out that to improve my proficiency in the language, I had to practice by speaking and writing. However, the circumstances made it difficult for me to do so.

My eagerness to learn English caused me to be mocked, shunned at and laughed at by my friends back then who thought I wanted to be a Mat Salleh (Englishman). Mr Choy, however, kept encouraging me to speak the language and told me to ignore what others said.

I have fond memories of Mr Choy. He was the one who encouraged me to take part in English competitions, from spelling bees to essay-writing, most of which I did miserably due to my terrible grammar. However, Mr Choy kept telling me to push ahead and not give up on improving my English.

He once joked that if I wanted to gain more knowledge, I should learn English, but if I wanted to woo the girls, I should learn French instead. I have admittedly been caned by Mr Choy in the quest to improve my proficiency of the language, but it was not something that I remember in bitterness.

I owe a lot to Mr Choy for the level of English that I can communicate with today. My improved command of the language has given me an edge in many areas. While I was in university, where reference books tended to be in English, my ability to understand the language was a great advantage. Now, as a journalist, it enabled me to conduct interviews in the language with great confidence.

Mrs Hew and Mr Choy are just two examples of how English teachers can change our lives by inspiring us to master the language. However, nowadays, how many parents lambast teachers over their children’s poor command of English?

I believe there are still many teachers like Mrs Hew and Mr Choy.

Today, my 12-year old daughter has a decent command of English, thanks to her English teachers. The same teachers also instilled in her passion in writing. I, too, have been encouraging her to speak and write in the language and am happy to note that she has taken to writing as I did.

by Fadzli Ramli.

BERNAMA.

Read more @ http://education.bernama.com/index.php?sid=news_content&id=1360130

More effort needed for English usage beyond classroom.

Friday, April 14th, 2017

PUTRAJAYA: Students must be given more opportunities to use English beyond the classroom.

Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kama­la­nathan said while there are sufficient English sessions in school and teachers work hard to ensure the language is taught, many students do not have the opportunity to converse in English at home.

He said competitions such as the Sunway-Oxbridge Essay Competition will help students to think, speak and write in English.

“It is in line with the second shift of the Malaysia Education Blueprint which states that every student has to be proficient in two languages.

“I hope this year, there will be more schools from rural areas that will participate as it is a good platform for them to have more exposure in English and speak the language,” he said when briefing reporters about the competition.

The competition is organised by the Sunway Group, the Oxford & Cambridge Society Malay­sia, the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation, Sunway University and Monash University Malaysia.

Kamalanathan said the competition, which is being organised for the fourth year, aims to improve the proficiency of English among students across the country.

He said students are invited to submit their essays on “Climate Action”.

Kamalanathan commended the organisers for their initiative, saying that the theme is relevant and requires participants to do some research and homework.

“A student needs to be aware and know how important climate and sustainable deve­lopment is. This subject is very important.

by SANDHYA MENON
Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/04/14/more-effort-needed-for-english-usage-beyond-classroom/#gYK4q2dlV0VIuAQk.99